Health for humans, animals & plants

Environment & Health Risk Barometer 2017

The Risk Barometer Environment & Health determines the risk perception and the level of information of the Austrian population at regular intervals. It forms the basis for future communication measures.

The current survey shows that the issues of social inequality, environmental pollution and climate change are particularly worrying. The topics of nutrition and health, in particular malnutrition and overeating, on the other hand, are rated as less worrying. Of greatest concern are hormone-like substances in food and personal care products, and the impact of chemicals and pollutants on people's health. There is a significant difference in risk assessment between experts and the general public. In particular, pathogenic microorganisms are rated as the top risk group by experts, while only half of the respondents are concerned about them. After all, 55 % of the respondents have a need for information. The lowest need for information exists for the topic of malnutrition and overeating, although this topic is classified by experts as particularly risky, since there has still not been a trend reversal of nutrition-associated diseases in Austria in recent years. In order to differentiate the Austrian population in terms of risk perception and behavior, five different risk types were defined. The risk perception of the individual types differs greatly and also does not coincide with the risk assessment of experts. The main source of information for Austrians is generally the Internet; there is a need for information on the topics of hormone-like substances in food and personal care products, mold toxins in food and feed, antibiotic residues in food, and harmful substances that arise during the preparation of food. The goals of communicating about risks are to increase the level of information, to change risk perception if necessary, and to initiate attitude and behavior change. Just under one-third of respondents change their behavior as a result of reading risk reports. Different requirements for communication are derived from the different information needs of the five risk types. Risk information adapted to the respective information channels and target group-specific recommendations in all media increase the effectiveness of risk communication. Risk reports increase the willingness to change one's own behavior, which currently does not occur to a sufficient extent: One quarter of the Austrian population does not change its habits despite concerns. This group increasingly needs comprehensible and implementable instructions for action and recommendations.

Last updated: 14.09.2022

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